California Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Requirements

Property & Casualty, Risk

In September 2023, California enacted Senate Bill 553 (SB 553). SB 553 requires most California employers to establish and implement a workplace violence prevention plan by July 1, 2024. With the compliance date fast approaching, California employers would be well served to review the requirements of SB 553 and take any necessary steps to comply with the law’s requirements by July 1, 2024.

Covered Employers

The requirements of SB 553 apply to all employers, employees, places of employment, and employer provided housing with limited exceptions. These exceptions include:

  • Employees teleworking from a location of their choice that is not under the control of the employer;
  • Places of employment with fewer than 10 employees that are not accessible to the public;
  • Health care facilities, service categories, and operation covered by Section 3342 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations; and
  • Employers that comply with Section 3342 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.

Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

Employers must establish, implement, and maintain a workplace violence prevention plan (WVPP). The WVPP must be in writing and be available to employees, their authorized representatives, and the state government. The plan must be in effect at all times and in all work areas and be specific to the hazards and corrective measures of each work area and operation. The WVPP can be a standalone document or included in a separate section of an employer’s written injury and illness prevention program.

  • The names or job titles of persons responsible for implementing the plan, along with a description of their roles;
  • Procedures for involving employees and authorized employee representatives in developing and implementing the plan, including, but not limited to:
    • Identifying, evaluating, and correcting workplace violence hazards;
    • Designing and implementing training; and
    • Reporting and investigating workplace violence incidents;
  • The methods the employer will use to coordinate implementing the plan with other employers, when necessary, to ensure that all employees receive the required training and that all workplace violence incidents involving any employee are reported, investigated, and recorded;
  • Procedures for the employer to receive and respond to reports of workplace violence and to prohibit retaliation against an employee who makes a report;
  • Procedures to ensure supervisory and non-supervisory employees comply with the plan;
  • Procedures for communicating with employees regarding:
    • How an employee can report a violent incident, threat, or other workplace violence concern to the employer or law enforcement;
    • How the employer will investigate an employee’s concerns and how the employee will be informed of the results of the investigation and any corrective actions that will be taken;
  • Procedures to respond to actual or potential workplace violence emergencies, including, but not limited to:
    • Alerting employees to the presence, location, and nature of workplace violence emergencies;
    • Evacuation or sheltering plans;
    • How to obtain help from staff assigned to respond to workplace violence emergencies, and security personnel and/or law enforcement, if any;
  • Procedures for training employees regarding the WVPP;
  • Procedures for identifying and evaluating workplace violence hazards, including, but not limited to:
    • Scheduled periodic inspections to identity unsafe conditions and practices and employee reports and concerns;
  • Procedures to correct workplace violence hazards in a timely manner;
  • Procedures for responding to and investigating an incident;
  • Procedures to review the WVPP’s effectiveness and make necessary revisions, including, but not limited to:
    • Procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees and authorized employee representatives in reviewing the plan. The review must be conducted at least annually, when a deficiency in the plan is found, and after a workplace violence incident.
  • Any additional procedures or information as required by regulations.

Violent Incident Log

Employers are required to maintain a violent incident log to document every workplace violence incident. The contents of the log will be based on information from employees, witnesses, and any investigation findings. The log should not contain any personal identifying information that could identify an individual involved in the violent incident.

The violent incident log must contain:

  • The date, time, and location of the incident;
  • The type(s) of workplace violence. There are four types of workplace violence:
    • Type 1: workplace violence committed by a person who has no legitimate business at the workplace, including violent acts by anyone who enters the workplace or approaches workers with intent to commit a crime;
    • Type 2: workplace violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or visitors;
    • Type 3: workplace violence against an employee by a present or former employee, supervisor, or manager;
    • Type 4: workplace violence committed in the workplace by a person who does not work there, but has or is known to have had a personal relationship with an employee;
  • A detailed description of the incident;
  • Who committed the violence, including whether the perpetrator was client/customer, family or friend of a client/customer, stranger with criminal intent, coworker, supervisor/manager, partner/spouse, parent/relative, or other perpetrator;
  • The circumstances at the time of incident, including, but not limited to, whether the employee was:
    • Completing usual job duties;
    • Working in a poorly lit area;
    • Rushed;
    • Working during a low staffing level;
    • Isolated or alone;
    • Unable to get help or assistance;
    • Working in a community setting;
    • Or working in an unfamiliar or new location;
  • Where the incident occurred, such as in the workplace, parking lot or other area outside the workplace, or other area;
  • The type of incident including, but not limited to, whether it involved:
    • Physical attack without a weapon, such as biting, choking, grabbing, hair pulling, kicking, punching, slapping, pushing, pulling, scratching, or spitting;
    • Attack with a weapon or object, such as a firearm, knife, or other object;
    • Threat of physical force or threat of the use of a weapon or other object;
    • Sexual assault or threat, such as rape, attempted rape, physical display, or unwanted verbal or physical sexual contact;
    • Animal attack; and
    • Other incidents not listed;
  • The consequences of the incident including:
    • Whether security or law enforcement was contacted and their response;
    • Actions taken to protect employees from a continuing threat or from any other hazards as result of the incident;
  • Information about the name of the individual completing the log including their name, job title, and date completed.

Employee Training

Employers must provide employees with training regarding the employer’s WVPP. The training materials must be appropriate in content and vocabulary to the education level, literacy, and language of the employees. Training must be conducted when the WVPP is first established and annually after that. The training needs to cover:

  • The employer’s WVPP, how to obtain a copy of the WVPP, and how an employee can participate in development and implementation of the plan;
  • The definitions and requirements of SB 553;
  • How to report workplace violence incidents or concerns to the employer or law enforcement;
  • Workplace violence hazards specific to the employees’ jobs, the corrective measures taken by the employer, how to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence, and strategies to avoid physical harm;
  • The violent incident log and how to obtain copies of the records maintained by the employer regarding the WVPP.

Additional training should be provided when a new or previously unrecognized workplace violence hazard is identified, and changes are made to the WVPP.

Record Keeping Requirements

Employers must create and maintain records regarding workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, and correction for at least five years. Violent incident logs must also be maintained for at least five years. Records of training should be maintained for at least one year and should include contents/summary of training sessions, names and qualifications of the trainers, and the names and job titles of all attendees.

These records must be available to employees upon request and without cost within 15 calendar days of request.

Employer Resources

Cal/OSHA has resources available to assist employers with complying with the requirements of SB 553. A model workplace violence prevention plan is available here. Cal/OSHA has also created two facts sheets—one for employers and one for workers—which may be beneficial to review to better understand the requirements of SB 553. Additional information regarding WVVPs can be found on the Cal/OSHA website.

Key Takeaways:

California employers should carefully review the requirements of SB 553 and establish a workplace violence prevention plan as required. Employers may be well served to utilize the model plan provided by Cal/OSHA as a starting point for their own plan.

Reach out to your M3 team with any questions you may have about OSHA reporting requirements, or what this update could mean for your organization. 

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